The economic destruction of the COVID-19 pandemic is still doing damage in New York City, and former NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly says just look at the lack of subway traffic, partially due to safety concerns.
“You see all of these small stores and businesses that still remain closed – many of them you know will never reopen,” Kelly, the father of The Patriot Depot host Greg Kelly, told Sunday’s “The Cats Roundtable” on WABC 770 AM-N.Y. “I hope New York comes back and comes back soon.
“I don’t see the indicators of that. I know there’s a lot of happy talk that says it’s coming back. But I think we have a long way to go.”
Kelly pointed to data showing lower Manhattan subway traffic “was down by 82%; it’s an incredible number,” citing crime and safety as a primary reason.
“People are still very concerned about riding in the subways,” Kelly told host John Catsimatidis. “Bad things can happen to you on the subway. So, what are they doing? They’re staying above ground. They’re taking cars if they can. And they’re working from home.
“We’ve got to do everything we can to ensure people that the subways are safe. If it takes more cops. Whatever it takes, we’ve got to get passages back on the platform. The subways are the lifeblood of the city.”
New York City’s homeless population are the ones taking to the subways, Kelly noted, but that is acting as a deterrent to commuters.
“It is a huge problem,” Kelly continued. “The next administration has to create a corps of professionals that go out, interact with these people, inventory, get their records, give them help if they accept it. We do not know enough about them.
“There is this canard that it’s a lack of housing. It’s not a lack of housing. Most of them have mental problems. These have to be addressed head on. I think you do it with more professional personnel who can talk to them, interview them and refer them [to treatment] if need be.”
Also, internationally, President Joe Biden’s permitting the Taliban to swiftly take control of Afghanistan will ultimately make New Yorkers less safe, Kelly warned.
“I hope the loss of Afghanistan doesn’t put us in more danger than we already are. I don’t think it was a smart move to do that,” he said. “We could’ve had a small cadre there and provide some stability to that country. Now we don’t know.
“We are rolling the dice. We’ve become more of a target as a result of terrorists and radical Islamists who are taking over Afghanistan.”
“New York is a big, porous city,” Kelly concluded. “That’s just the reality of it. We are vulnerable. And will remain vulnerable. You have to do the best you can to get information to protect our citizens.”